How High Can You Fly in the Cloud?
If you follow certain steps, and leverage all the cloud has to offer, very high indeed.
By Michele P. Warren
Know any pilots who get in the cockpit of their plane without a flight plan? We hope not. Getting your cloud business off the ground might not be exactly the same as flying a jet, but having a plan is still vital.
In a Webinar on Sept. 13, titled “What’s Your Altitude in the Cloud,” Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group, joined Microsoft and Ingram Micro Cloud to discuss data from the State of the U.S. Cloud Channel research and a new complimentary tool, the 2112 Cloud Altimeter, which solution providers can use to determine how their cloud businesses stack up to the competition’s.
According to Walsh, having a “flight plan” (read: business plan) is only one element of a viable cloud operation. Other key components: setting sales goals, engaging fully with customers, delivering a top-notch customer experience, and investing in advanced cloud services.
2112’s research reveals that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) don’t have a business plan, and 7 out of 10 don’t have cloud sales goals. Meanwhile, 24 percent of surveyed solution providers go a year or more without talking to their cloud customers, and only 26 percent interact with their customers on a monthly basis.
That’s not the kind of planning and engagement that’s going to boost a company’s cloud bottom line. “Think of engagement as curating the experience for the customer,” Walsh said. “Solution providers and vendors that don’t engage customers fully see lower rates of growth, higher churn rates, and unpredictable revenue streams.”
Yet delivering a stellar customer experience involves more than just frequent communication. It’s also about getting away from speeds-and-feeds discussions and moving toward conversations centered on business outcomes. How can you help customers improve their businesses? How can you make their jobs (and lives) easier? In an increasingly complex world – and technology market – customers crave simplicity. Your job is to give it to them, Walsh said.
The good news, obviously, is that the channel has embraced the cloud. The average solution provider generates up to 20 percent of its revenue from cloud services, and the cloud will account for 40 percent of said revenue by 2022. But there’s bad news too – namely, that channel companies are focusing on commoditized cloud offerings such as backup and disaster recovery, hosted e-mail, and endpoint security. What they need to do is invest in more advanced, high-yield cloud technologies – things like Platform-as a-Service (PaaS), hosted CRM/ERP, collaboration tools, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Ultimately, the cloud market is going to become more and more competitive. “Given increasing complexity and natural market forces toward consolidation, you’re going to need ways to make yourself stand apart,” Walsh said. “That’ll be through different products, levels of expertise, and value propositions.”
And that’s where the 2112 Cloud Altimeter comes in. Solution providers can use this complimentary tool to see how their cloud operations compare to competitors’, and then make adjustments to stay even with – and overtake – the pack. Success will come to those who state a vision, define their value, set goals, create an execution plan, and invest in growth.